Apr 12, 2017
Texas could allow home-schooled students to play high school sports

A Texas lawmaker has proposed a bill that would allow the state’s home-schooled students to play sports at their area high schools.

Thirty-one states currently allow some type of athletic participation for home-schooled students, but none as big as Texas. The Dallas Morning News reports that the state has about 350,000 home-schooled students, and Texas leads the nation with more than 809,000 boys and girls already playing interscholastic sports.

Several states like Virginia, Alabama and Kentucky have passed or are considering their own versions of the “Tim Tebow bill,” named for the former Heisman winner who was home-schooled in Florida but played public school sports. Proponents want children to have the opportunity to play sports in a competitive environment, while critics believe it opens the door to recruiting and complicates academic eligibility.

From The Dallas Morning News:

The proposed legislation would let home-schooled students participate in UIL events through their local public school, though they would have to pass a nationally recognized test — such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills — to show grade-level proficiency, and follow whatever guidelines a public school has set for participation.

Home-school families speaking before the Senate education committee Thursday were split on the bill, with some wanting expanded access to organized extracurricular activities and others fearing it could open the door to government regulations.

Supporters said sports participation is often a key part of community building for their children. But as their kids get older, options become more limited and they are often excluded as they age out of Little League and their peers move on to public-school teams.

There has been a lot of debate over home-schooler participation in recent years, but lawmakers continue to gauge statewide interest. Texas considered similar bills during the last two legislative sessions, and both failed.

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